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13th December Current Affairs

World Bank’s new toolkit on Enabling Gender Responsive Urban Mobility

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

In News:

World Bank launched a “Toolkit on Enabling Gender Responsive Urban Mobility and Public Spaces in India” with the aim of suggesting ways to make public transport in Indian cities more inclusive of women’s travelling requirements.

 WHY URBAN PUBLIC SPACES AND MOBILITY SERVICES SHOULD BE VIEWED THROUGH A GENDER LENS?

Women are amongst the biggest users of public transport across Indian cities.

Lack of safety deters women from stepping out; creating a vicious cycle that lowers their presence in public spaces.

Women face barriers in using public transport owing to gender-blind design elements during access and egress, waiting at stops and transfers, boarding and alighting, and inside the vehicle.

Barriers to women’s mobility actively restrict their choices around education and employment.

Deep-rooted gender-based social norms actively restrict women’s movement outside their homes.

Women bear a disproportionate burden of unpaid care work in India necessitating public transport solutions for the mobility of care

Women’s ‘time poverty’ constrains time available for commuting.

The World Bank suggests a four-pillared approach to help address prevailing issues in urban transport for women.

Recommendations given in the new toolkit:

Integrating gender elements when developing comprehensive mobility plans at the city level.

Developing Gender Action Plans as an integral part of plans at the city level.

Incentive-based policies may be brought in by state governments to enable women’s workforce participation in the mobility sector

Establish a Gender Advisory Committee to monitor GAP implementation.

Strengthen grievance redressal cells to fast-track sexual harassment complaints by commuters and users of public spaces, ensuring representation of women and persons of minority genders.

Establish one-stop centres at public transport facilities.

Implementing agencies can consider digitizing ticketing systems and adopting a common mobility card through an integrated mobility system.

Weighing in on the efficacy of female leadership in government

(GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to women))

In News:

The important takeaway from recent experience and studies is the necessity of overcoming inherent biases and perceptions about female effectiveness in leadership roles.

Background:

Germany, Taiwan and New Zealand which had women heading their governments, seem to have managed the pandemic much better than their neighbours.

The States in the US which have female governors had fewer COVID-19-related deaths because female governors acted more decisively by issuing earlier stay-at-home orders.

The above concludes that women leaders are more effective than their male counterparts in times of crisis.

Case of India:

Women were allowed to vote from 1950 onwards, which is in striking contrast to the experience in the so-called “mature democracies” of the west. For example, women were allowed to vote in the US in 1920, after years of protest.

Some charismatic female leaders were/are Indira Gandhi, Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Sushma Swaraj, Mamata Banerjee, and Draupadi Murmu among several others. However, overall figures are depressing.

Reasons are:

Poor representation in legislatures: For instance, women constitute just over 14% of the total strength of the 17th Lok Sabha.

Best practice: Tiny Rwanda is on the top with a staggering 60% of seats, when it comes to women’s representation in its lower house.

The Women’s Reservation Bill is dead: The Bill, first presented to the Lok Sabha in 1996, provided quotas for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

Although the Rajya Sabha did pass the bill in 2010, the Lok Sabha and the State legislatures are yet to give their approval.

Importance of female leadership in government:

This can be understood by the example of Gram panchayats in India.

A study conducted by Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo used the system of mandated reservations (73rd Constitutional Amendment, 1992, reserves 1/3rd of all positions of pradhan for women) to test the effectiveness of female leadership.

The study concluded that women pradhans are more likely to invest in women-friendly infrastructure. For example, providing easy access to drinking water.

Way forward for India:

Building consensus on women reservation bill.

Such quotas have both a short-term (increased female representation in policy making) and long-term (improves perceptions about female effectiveness in leadership roles) impact.

This decreases the bias and results in a subsequent increase in the percentage of female politicians contesting and winning elections.

Conclusion:

The instrumental importance of promoting more space for women in public policy is an important goal from the perspective of gender equality.

U.N. Nature summit puts the industry on alert to disclose more

(GS-II: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.)

In News:

Sectors such as mining, agriculture, oil, and fashion are under scrutiny at the COP15 talks, due to their heavy impact on nature with activities that can contaminate soil, foul waterways, or pollute the air.

How key sectors could be affected by the COP15 talks:

Fashion:

Fashion and retail are facing pressure from consumers and governments to reduce waste and emissions throughout their operations.

More than 330 companies came out in support of a COP15 deal that includes mandatory disclosure of companies’ environmental impacts by 2030.

Smaller companies with limited resources for monitoring and accounting could find a disclosure requirement more challenging.

Mining:

For companies mining metals and coal, an environmental disclosure requirement could force companies to reveal the impacts not just from the blasting and drilling they do on-site, but also from the logging and deforestation carried out in creating access roads.

Mining companies are also concerned about the central goal of the COP15 talks – to set aside 30% of Earth’s land and ocean areas for conservation by 2030.

Agriculture:

With new disclosure rules, the farming sector would face an increased burden of reporting on activities like land clearing and pesticide use.

Oil Exploration:

Oil companies are expected to ramp up their internal resources for reporting on and disclosing how oil drilling and exploration activities impact nature.

Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Anniversary

In News:

PM to participate in a programme commemorating Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary on 13th Dec and release commemorative postal stamp and coin.

Sri Aurobindo’s life and lessons:

He was an Indian philosopher, yogi, maharishi, poet, and Indian nationalist

He also edited newspapers such as Vande Mataram

He joined the Indian movement for independence from British colonial rule, until 1910 was one of its influential leaders, and then became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution

He associated himself with Anushilan Samiti of Bengal and was arrested under the Alipore Conspiracy case

In 1926, with the help of his spiritual collaborator, Mirra Alfassa(referred to as “The Mother”), Sri Aurobindo Ashram was founded

Literary works:

  • The Life Devine
  • Synthesis of Yoga
  • Savitri: A legend and a symbol